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My Two Cents: Learning to save big on baby supplies

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Baby companies are geniuses when it comes to marketing. They want you to believe that babies need a million different things, which will set you back roughly that much cash!

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When our girls were born, we somewhat fell into this trap, and later found out how little babies actually need and how you can improvise or borrow what you need. Hand-me-downs are amazing. Our kids use and wear them all the time, and we are complemented a lot on how cute they are dressed.

Car seats are the one thing you shouldn't skimp on. These should always be bought new, or if used, they should be less than 6 years old and never have been in an accident. If you think you may have more than one child, buy a gender-neutral car seat that you could use for your next baby too. Pick one out and wait for it to go on sale, or better yet, put it on your registry list.

There are roughly 13,529 different kinds of car seats in every color and size for all price ranges. We found out that a big box baby store gives you 10 percent off major purchases if you buy more than one of the same item.

We found two infant carriers that were on clearance, and were given the extra 10 percent off on top of that. We had saved so much money that we went out for dinner. It was Shrimp Fest at Red Lobster, and I'm fairly certain they lost money on us because of their Endless Shrimp promotion. Ryan eats a lot all of the time and I was eating for three so the shrimp population took a hard hit that day.

I also cannot stress the importance of having a good stroller. These things are expensive, but if you travel, walk or run a lot, it is worth spending the extra money. When our boys came, the only thing we had to buy was a new stroller. I wanted a BOB Revolution Duallie Stroller, which is roughly the cost of a small car. We are big geocachers, and spend a lot of time outdoors, so we need a stroller that could go off-road, take a beating and keep our twinks safe.

There was no way I was going to pay the $659 (yes that is U.S. dollars) price tag plus the insane shipping fees because it was considered an oversized item. So while on bed rest, I came up with a plan. I wanted "this" stroller. Bad.

I waited and researched every buying option out there. I checked classified ads in various newspapers, Craigslist, eBay and every online store that I could find that carried it. Since I was basically on house arrest because of the pregnancy, I couldn't do my search on foot, which is what I normally do.

I plotted and planned for weeks. I worked out a plan that rivaled the best strategic plans out there. With military precision, I executed my major purchase. I made sure my laptop battery was charged, my pillows were plumped, our credit card was dusted off and that I was well-hydrated. I made my attack on a Monday.

This was no ordinary Monday; it was Cyber Monday. In case you aren't familiar with Cyber Monday, it is the Monday after Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Small Business Saturday. It's been said to be the best online shopping day of the year, and it did not disappoint.

I found an online store that had a huge sale on high-end strollers, plus shipping was free. I had a coupon for an additional 20 percent off and I used our Discover card, which was offering a special cash-back deal of 5 percent. I am positive I got the best deal possible, and I'm also positive our little, sweet boys will stay safe while out in the woods with their crazy parents and siblings.

The point is this: If you are going to make a major purchase, take a little extra time and make sure you are getting the best price. Sometimes you can get a discount simply for paying with cash or negotiating. Don't rule out bartering. It goes back to the sale cycle I talked about last week. Almost everything will eventually go on sale. That is when you want to buy. It's hard to be patient when there is something you really want staring you right in the face, but if you are, you will save a lot of money.

Also consider the resale value of the item you are buying. When I was looking at used strollers, they were selling for $400 plus. We've had our stroller for almost three years, and plan on reselling it. We've taken good care of it, and should have no problem fetching top dollar for it when it comes time to let it go. We aren't there yet, and I'm secretly glad.

Jessica grew up in the countryside near Wadena, went to college in Moorhead, married a Canadian, gained a son, moved to Chicago, had two sets of twins and finally moved back to the Wadena area after her mom passed away in 2012. While Jessica loves living a life to rival those of the "Real Housewives," she understands the importance of saving money like a real housewife.

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